The settlement of the Dixon Road cell tower by the Town Board shows that community activism can have an effect. It is a shame that the residents had to hire their own attorney at their expense in order to be certain their voices were heard.
The tower being moved to a less intrusive location on Dixon Road, as well as a lower limit on its height, now and in the future represent an improvement from the outrageous proposals that were originally made. It is important to note that the residents of the Dixon Road/Brittany Lane community still feel strongly that if a tower is needed it should have always gone on town property instead of a private individual. The fact that the town lost any of that revenue opportunity for all of us is embarrassing given the number of locations on town land that are available. Our community deserves all of the revenue from such a tower.
The town board has a critical obligation to the community it serves to have income revenue streams shared by the community. There will always be self-serving corporations, as well as selfish individual residents without concern for their neighbors and community. Our town boards need to be held accountable for protecting the hard-working tax-paying residents from these intrusions now and in the future. Our elected officials need to have a better master plan for dealing with cell towers; it is vital to include early input from local residents as part of that process.
There are some large-scale items on the horizon from technology to commercial development which require a long-term strategic plan. It is critical that these be handled properly and can become opportunities to diversify the tax base within our town for the single-family residences which take the brunt of the tax burden. If our town’s planning and zoning boards are to address these issues/opportunities, it cannot be done as a “one-off” decision each time there is some type of a variance request.
My advice to folks is to get involved early and often on these types of critical issues in order to influence the outcomes, diversify the tax base and maintain respect for residential communities.
Robert Montanaro was the spokesperson for the Dixon Road neighborhood during the cell tower hearings last fall.